Transfusion medicine
1 min

Will the UK lift the gay blood ban?

The UK government is expected to make an announcement
soon regarding the ban on blood donations by gay men. In 2009 the government’s Advisory
Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs began a review of the ban.
The results should be released shortly.

Critics have been mounting pressure on the government.
In September 2010 the conservative gay group LGBTory started a campaign against the ban, saying it
was outdated and discriminatory.

The UK belongs to the European Blood Alliance, an
organization that oversees the safety of blood supply for European Union (EU)
citizens. Most EU countries belong to the alliance and adhere to the ban. However,
each country is free to make decisions based on evidence regarding
patterns of disease transmission by transfusions.

Since 1997, Canadian gay men have been banned from giving blood by
the Canadian Blood Service (CBS). In 2002, CBS sued a gay man named Kyle Freeman for
donating blood 18 times, focusing on four specific donations he made between
1998 and 2002. After seven years of waiting to go to trial, the courts ruled against
Freeman in 2010.

The CBS ban still stands. In 2008, CBS created a $500,000 grant to conduct research on appropriate blood donation deferral periods. The funds are still available.

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